What do a trip to Commons Beach, a beer from Dueling Dogs Brewing Co. and the Placer County Museum have in common? Each of them is a stop on the new Visit Placer Explorer Pass.
Travel destinations have started using gamification to incentivize visiting—and interacting with—local places by offering swag in exchange for checking in using your phone’s geolocation feature. The Explorer Pass is an all-inclusive app-like home page that asks users to check in to historical checkpoints and museums, regional parks and popular hiking trails and wineries and breweries. Each check-in earns points toward Visit Placer items, including a sticker, hat and mug—and entry into a raffle for a grand prize package. The winner will be announced Nov. 15.
The pass itself isn’t an app—there’s no download required. Instead, when you sign up for the pass online (visitplacer.com), a text message will shoot you a link to the page. Simply save it to your phone’s home screen and it’ll work like an app from there. Open it when you’re at a participating business to get credit.
This version of the program is unique in that it’s all-inclusive; most similar programs are reserved for food and/or drink only. Take, for example, the Sacramento Brewery Passport. This passport isn’t free like the Explorer Pass. Instead, you pay a fee, then collect stamps from participating locations. Once you have as few as four stamps, you can start trading them in for free prizes. Those who visit all participating locations receive a map of the region, tracing their brewery discovery route.
Placer County also offers seasonal passports for the Wine & Ale Trail. The 2023 summer one is dubbed the Sips & Suds Passport and is valid from May 15 to Aug. 31. The $40 passport rewards buyers with complimentary tastings and other extras at participating locations instead of opportunities to earn swag.